Reading all these articles that picked up this highly fascinating report, I could not wonder if we data driven marketers continue to underestimate the power of friends and family networks, of real live human networks that fall outside of understanding realm for most marketers. But I think this will change due to several reasons:
- There are more and more data streams that capture the interactions of these human networks. Starting from text messaging amongst “The fab five” networks of cellphone users to Facebook members spending several hours per day on updating and communicating amongst their peers to the tight communities of some niche bloggers, this all leads to a data capturing mechanism that could help us understand network patterns. It’s not about breaking someone’s privacy but about understanding human network paradigms by analyzing these interactions.
- Marketers know that the importance of traditional mass marketing will further decrease, therefore they need to invest intelligence and resources in leveraging other means of communication. Penetrating human networks with relevant messages will become more important.
- There is already an increasing focus on Viral Marketing, Word-to-Mouth Marketing, Buzz marketing, and all related real or pseudo disciplines. But there is a tremendous lack of building a data driven science to utilize these different approaches in any accountable and meaningful manner. The critically need science is the understanding of human network structures, interactions between network members, and behavioral patterns driven by this network. It’s the marriage of psychology with behavioral and economical research methodologies under the lenses of a curious marketer.
It’s less about Viral Marketing than Network marketing. But first we will need to understand the interactions within these millions of human networks in a scalable and relevant manner. Then it becomes interesting.